Brighton Science Festival

Westdene School evaluation

Hello Richard

Thank you for visiting Westdene School for our science week. The idea of the week was to inspire our pupils in science and indeed in stem based learning overall: you certainly  did that satisfactorily, if the whoops and cheers, the eye popping, the gasps and looks of awe are anything to go by that were seen on the children’s faces throughout the week.

 

The Monday assembly to kick us off, “Are We Nearly Here Yet”, was the story of the whole Universe, told in 45 minutes. It gave us all a structured narrative of how we got here – stars, planets, Earth, volcanoes, life, bacteria, animals, and us – so we can see how we fit into the whole picture. There were so many complex ideas within this. Having looked at some discussion notes, posters, little books that the children completed after this assembly it demonstrated that everyone, from year two to year six including their teachers, learned something out of it. The assembly presented by year 4 on the Friday of science week showed how much they had really understood of this complex idea.

 

The workshops , that you managed to present on such a tight schedule due to the size of our school and the around the complexity of our science week timetable, let the children  get to grips with the world in a more down-to-earth way – literally grasping things and making things with them – is vital to understanding some of the core concepts of science, such as gravity, weight, friction, momentum, levers, pulleys, etc. The Incredible Machine fitted very well with that for years three and four. We had done lessons about Rube Goldberg machines in the upper years within explanation writing and science. It has been something that I have tried to mimic at school without success but with your expertise and access to the right resources they were able to make one for themselves in a way I could never have helped them achieve. In addition, the workshops really reinforced our Growth Mindset principles that we have in school: discovering the pleasure of thinking creatively, working cooperatively, not minding mistakes but learning how to ‘fail better’, and the excitement of seeing their designs come to life.

 

Angry Gulls explored the hidden world of release mechanisms: ‘hidden’ in plain sight – door handles, taps, zips, toasters, kettles, toilet flushes, biro clickers… our homes are full of them. Now maybe years five and six will look more closely at the fixtures and fitments that surround them at home. (as well as understanding something of the lives of herring gulls).

 Thank you for being open enough to indulge us in allowing the year 6 children to works with the year 2. We were keen to try this, as there are some children in this year group that we had noted during literacy week had really personally gained confidence in working with the younger children. Your flexibility in managing this was fabulous. The year six classes gained so much in their own communication skills and science understanding entertained the year two classes with what they knew about science, via the science-magic tricks you showed them: (1) Centres of gravity (with their balancing butterfly demonstrations), (2) Sound (making paper cup frogs), (3) Illusions (the changing card trick), (4) Meniscus (floating Rice Krispies above the top of a glass). This is a very good way to spread the knowledge: The younger ones were in awe of the older ones and the older ones like showing off and teaching the youngsters. It has also meant that these children have continued to speak to each other as they go around the school.

 

In honesty when I planned the week, I was concerned about the possible attendance for the Wednesday evening parents and children evening as in the past we have offered workshops but this is very limiting in numbers and I was keen to get as many people as possible involved in science week. However, my fears were completely misguided as you entertained so many of our school community (over 200 in all), from reception to year six, to teachers, to parents and grandparents, with a show about gravity which taught us some very important principles in such an entertaining way. I loved that fact that the ideas were simple enough for children and parents to replicate at home rather than it being the usual large bangs and pops which can, I fear , make school science then seem less interesting to the children. The parents were talking about it in the playground on Thursday and Friday and telling the other that they had missed a great evening!

 

I think I will leave you with a summary from a few children. I put up a poster with a post it to complete last week with the questions:

What did you most enjoy about science week,

“Richards incredible machines were incredible! “

“Richard Robinson coming in ..he was really funny bit a great scientist too. “

More reviews HERE

 

What would you like to do again next science week?

“Have Mr, Robinson again. He was really interesting and fun and I learnt loads.”

 

 

Finally ..I wish I had your energy ! Thank you so much for making our science week such a huge success.